Part II: Get to Know Your Atlanta Board of Education Members
By: Alicia Sands Lurry
As School Board Appreciation Week comes to a close, Atlanta Public Schools salutes the Atlanta Board of Education members who work tirelessly to improve education and provide quality resources for all children. Yesterday we profiled five board members. The following are profiles of the four remaining members.
Eshé Collins (District 6, Seat 9) ran for school board because she believes that all children should have equal access to quality education in their community. “I know all of Atlanta’s children can excel with a supportive school system and community,” she said. “I simply want every child to have the resources and support that will engage and challenge them.” As a board member, she also realizes that every decision she makes impacts APS children. She notes: “I must be open to all ideas and perspectives, but my decisions must be centered on what’s best for our children or how this will impact the educational experience for APS students.”
An Atlanta native and former teacher in Atlanta Public Schools, Eshé never wavered from her strong passion for education. Beginning at a young age, she always knew the value of a solid education: a challenging curriculum, a system of great teachers, and strong family and community involvement. Eshé understands the impact of quality education in realizing the potential of the city, and is excited to leverage her passion and experience to provide all students in Atlanta with the education they deserve.
With a mandate from city residents to bring about positive changes for in District 1, Leslie Grant (District 1, Seat 7) stepped up to the challenge. “I knew it was important to have a candidate who understood the district, who would listen to and represent this diverse set of needs and perspectives – from the South River to Piedmont Park,” she said. “There were so many opportunities that were not being afforded to all of the children in our schools and I felt very passionately about helping to fix some of the ‘adult issues’ that seemed to be consuming the district. And while we aren’t perfect and won’t get there overnight, I do believe we’ve made a lot of progress in two years.”
A resident of historic Grant Park since 1995 and mother of two children who attended Atlanta Public Schools, Leslie firmly believes the work of the board is to support student achievement. “I strongly believe that a decision we made last Monday, March 7th, 2016, will have a very significant positive impact on the children in the the south part of my district,” she said. “The Turnaround Strategy that was unanimously approved, includes two partnerships that will bring a marked improvement for the students and their families in the Carver Cluster.”
Since the early 1990s, Cynthia Briscoe Brown (At-Large Seat 8, Districts 3 &4) has worked publicly and behind the scenes for all kids, devoting herself to making sure every child gets everything he or she needs to succeed. A graduate of Davidson College and Vanderbilt Law School, Cynthia uses her 27 years of experience as an attorney to help students, teachers and families across the city. She has assisted several APS schools in forming their own nonprofit foundations and frequently donates her expertise to students with legal issues related to college and scholarship applications.
Cynthia serves or has served on the boards of the Calvin Center, the Atlanta Partnership for Arts in Learning, the Committee for Teaching About the United Nations/Atlanta, and the Alliance Francaise d’Atlanta, creating partnerships with each organization and opportunities for students and teachers across the city to improve their skills and enrich their lives. As a volunteer with Young Audiences of Atlanta, Cynthia helped develop and implement the smART stART program, using visual and performing arts experiences to improve and encourage the reading skills of economically disadvantaged kindergarten students.
Jason Esteves (At-Large Seat 9, Districts 5 & 6) was elected to the Atlanta Board of Education in 2013 and is serving his first term as the board member for At-Large Seat 9.
After graduating from the University of Miami, Jason devoted himself to teaching at a public middle school in the Houston Independent School District as part of Teach for America. Today, Jason is a practicing attorney at the Atlanta law firm of McKenna Long & Aldridge, LLP, where he brings businesses, nonprofits and individuals together to solve problems and get results. Jason has also served on the boards of KIPP South Fulton Academy, Georgia Appleseed’s Young Professionals Council, and the Georgia Hispanic Bar Association.